Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings (20 Buck Spin)

Monday, 18th November 2019
Rating: 8.5/10

There is a medieval bent to Minneapolis’s Obsequiae, but, frankly, you sometimes forget it’s there considering how elegant and, dare we say, “overflowing” their guitar melodies are. Formed in 2007, the band has been on the gradual ascent since 2015’s under-the-radar Aria of Vernal Tombs, an album that was given the appropriate boost by arguably the hottest label in metal, 20 Buck Spin. That foray laid the groundwork for what was to come on The Palms of Sorrowed Kings, one of 2019’s finest, if not the finest, displays of melodic death metal.

The broad, overarching melodic death metal term can go in many directions. In the case of Obsequiae (who are comprised of vocalist/guitarist/bassist Tanner Anderson, medieval harpist Vicente La Camera Mariño and drummer Eoghan McCloskey), they are clear disciples of mid-90s Gothenburg melodic death metal. Think of when Dark Tranquillity, Eucharist and A Canorous Quintet started making the rounds, parlaying a steady diet of coasting, bright melodies that wrapped themselves around their compositions. That’s how Obsequiae operates, with a lot of the same smart, savvy guitar placement, whether on the opening strands of “Ceres in Emerald Streams” or “Emanations Before the Pythia,” where a slow build of cascading harmonies results in the album’s most epic moment.

Anderson’s black metal-soaked vocals are a mere accompaniment, as are the interludes provided by Mariño, which gives The Palms of Sorrowed Kings its old-world feeling. The good stuff is all in the melodies, many of which are top-rung and harken back to the glory days of Gothenburg. All it took was a band from Minneapolis to do it.